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Around the 32 Counties | Print |  Email
Wednesday, 19 December 2007
Pylons are raising passions in Cavan, new communities are proposed for Derry and Fermanagh, and a Louth man has been chosen for a leading spot in New York.

Antrim: A bird that prefers a temperate climate

While the rest of his flock take their winter holidays in Mexico or the southern states of the US, one Ring Billed Gull has decided he prefers the more temperate climate of Antrim, and regularly arrives at Whitehouse Lagoon. Birdwatchers believe that the gull spotted at the lagoon on the shores of Belfast Lough is the same one that was first noted back in 1983 and which has returned each year since then. Its other haunt in the North is the car park at Tesco's in Newtownabbey, where it scavenges for food with a number of other gulls.

Armagh: Statue of Olympic medallist for Portadown

Sculptor John Sherlock has been commissioned to create a statue of Mary Peters, the Olympic pentathlon gold medallist, to be erected in Portadown, where she attended Portadown College; she held the position of Head Girl at the college exactly fifty years ago. The idea for the statue of Mary Peters came from the vice-chairman of the group Portadown 2000, who saw a statue of footballer Bertie Peacock while at a match in Coleraine last year. The group was set up to promote the town, and the nine-foot high statue will be created in the sculptor's studio in Whiteabbey.

Carlow: Los Angeles beckons for Carlow girl

Thirteen-year-old Saoirse Ronan from Carlow has been nominated Best Supporting Actress in a Drama in the Golden Globe Awards, seen as something of a forerunner to the Oscar nominations due next month. Saoirse, the daughter of actor Paul Ronan, received her nomination for her part in the film "Atonement", an adaptation of an Ian McEwan book. However Saoirse is up against stiff competition for the award, since other nominees include Julia Roberts, Tilda Swanton and Cate Blanchett. The awards are due to be presented in mid-January in Los Angeles.

Cavan: Feelings run high at pylon meeting

A meeting held in Kingscourt last week revealed the depth of the opposition to Eirgrid's proposal to erect pylons in the area. Some six hundred people turned up at the community centre to hear civil engineer Dermot Kelly say that the proposed cable should go under or adjacent to the railway line from Navan to Kingscourt. Also speaking at the meeting were Andrew Clarke, who led the campaign against the erection of mobile phone masts at Muff, and Yvonne Rooney, a spokesperson for the Kingscourt group. Members of the anti-pylon group have already lobbied Stormont on the issue and intend to visit the Dáil in the New Year.

Clare: Muslims to have designated graveyard

The county council has agreed to a submission by former Labour TD Moosajee Bhamjee that a designated Muslim graveyard is required in the county. The last census showed a Muslim population in Clare of more than seven hundred and the council has agreed to provide twenty Muslim graves at the Drumcliffe graveyard just outside Ennis. While all the graves will be looking towards Mecca, the council has stipulated that all burials must be in accordance with the regulations governing graveyards in their ownership. Mr Bhamjee, himself a Muslim, expressed his delight at the council's agreement to his proposal.

Cork: New sculpture for Newmarket

The town of Newmarket can now boast a new statue, following the unveiling of a likeness of writer Alice Taylor in New Street. The bronze statue was unveiled by Sister Consilio, founder of Cuan Mhuire, in a project initiated by the Tidy Towns Committee. The likeness of Ms Taylor, created by Bandon sculptor Don Cronin, is seated on a limestone slab, and an adjacent slap carries the words of her poem "Come Sit a While". This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the publication of Ms Taylor's memoir, "To School Through The Fields", the biggest best seller in Irish history.

Derry: A new community for Derry city

Plans are due to be finalised soon for a new community in the Skeoge and Buncrana Roads area on the outskirts of Derry city which will house a population of some twenty-five thousand. The project will comprise some seven thousand houses with at least three hundred on the Skeoge lands designated as social housing. There will also be a number of major retail units, public parks and other developments over the next fifteen to twenty years. The project has been in the pipeline for the past six years but now it is hoped that it will be given the go-ahead in the New Year.

Donegal: Once-off rescue for Lough Swilly lifeguards

Lough Swilly lifeguard Stephen McGavigan called it the strangest shout they'd ever had when the crew was called out to save a cow from drowning. The animal, owned by a farmer with land close to the shore at Linsfort, had wandered down to a cove and became trapped by the rising tide. The farmer heard sounds of its distress and called in the lifeguards who, using inflatable tubes to help direct the animal, managed to steer it towards a spot from where its owner could lead it to safety. The rescue was further hampered by the fact that darkness was beginning to fall as it was in progress.

Down: New transport system pleases Annie

A new transport scheme introduced to Downpatrick has found particular favour with one-hundred-year-old Anne McKeathing, known as Annie. The ex-matron, who nursed during the Second World War, says that the Door-2-Door Transport Scheme will mean that she will be able to get to the shops, and to her doctor's more easily. The bus has been supplied by the Regional Development Department and Annie was welcomed as a member of the scheme by Minister Conor Murphy when he visited the St Patrick Centre in Downpatrick. According to Annie's niece Isobelle Rooney, herself a nurse, her aunt attributes her health and long life to a combination of garlic, gin and getting out and about.

Dublin: Another development to be delayed by monument

The discovery of an ancient series of megalithic tombs in Fingal could cause a delay in the development of a new port facility in the locality. According to local historian Paddy Boyle, the artist's impression for the new port shows no evidence of the complex of cairns, and even has the terminal located on the exact site. He believes that, were excavation to be carried out, it would emerge that the site is on a par with Newgrange and Loughcrew, and almost certainly the oldest in Fingal. He has suggested that the developers cordon off that particular section of the headland.

Fermanagh: New village for Florencecourt

A new village planned for Creamery Corner, Drumlaghy on the edge of the Florencecourt estate will provide affordable homes set adjacent to a shop and a visitor orientation point. Plans for the project, an initiative by developers Sammy Leslie and Ronan McGurran, went on display recently in Larganess Community and Visitor Centre. The developers have already overseen a similar scheme at Sammy Leslie's home, the Castle Leslie Estate in Monaghan. Drumlaghy Estate Village will have forty-three houses and six apartments in addition to retail outlets and the visitor facilities.

Galway: A tuna smoothie as an aid to bodybuilding

A man from Indreabhan who aspires to the title of Mr Universe has devised a unique method of consuming the two tins of tuna he has to eat each day along with a range of other bodybuilding foods. Cathal Mac Tiarnán is not particularly fond of fish so he puts tuna from two tins into a blender, adds water and then drinks the concoction in one go. As well as the tuna, Cathal's daily intake of food comprises twelve egg whites, porridge, two or three chicken breasts, two or three steaks, brown rice, turkey, diet cottage cheese, broccoli, salad, and power bars.

Kerry: A donkey, a bucking bronco and mustangs - all for charity

The Cancer Care for Kerry 2008 project, which was launched last weekend, could not be accused of being mundane, for it has something of an equine theme with a donkey, a bucking bronco and a venture into rounding up mustangs. A donkey named Billy was the prize in a raffle held at a function in Glenbeigh, a bucking bronco evening is to take place in Killarney in April, and two women are heading to Idaho to take part in the rounding up of wild mustangs. Amber Ashe and Liz Slee are funding their own trip to Idaho, with help from Ranch Rider's Tony Daly, and they will be looking for local sponsorship for their adventure.

Kildare: Calendar remembers late craftsman

The fourth Calendar for Clane and Rathcoffey Parish was launched last week in Manzor's Village Inn in Clane by Bryan Sammon, the former principal of Scoil Mhuire. Compiled by Kevin Carr Photography of Kilcock, the calendar includes photographs by Dessie Boland, Kim Mullahy and Bridie Maughan. Parish priest Father Paul O'Boyle and those who assisted him in producing the calendar have decided to dedicate it to the memory of the late Jack Donoghue from Robertstown, a noted thatcher, who was working on the Weld family home in Balligappa before his death. Members of his family attended the launch of the new calendar.

Kilkenny: Some are lucky, some are not

It appears that while two villages in the county are likely to have broadband available early in the New Year, two others are to be left out in the communications cold for at least another year. Councillor Tomás Breathnach has learnt that broadband is to be available some time in January from the exchanges at Mullinavat and Kilmacow. However the same councillor was told by Eircom that the villages of Piltown and Fiddown will not have broadband available to residents until some time in 2009. He has consequently asked Eircom, on the grounds of fairness, to bring this latter connection date forward.

Laois: Flowers and chocolates for mother of special baby

When Mary Rose Cunningham gave birth to her son Danny earlier this month in the Midlands Regional Hospital in Portlaoise, staff at the maternity unit presented her with flowers and chocolates. This is not usual for new mothers but Danny was the two thousandth baby to be born in the hospital this year; so far in 2007 there has been an increase of two hundred in the number of births in the hospital. Mary Rose and Danny are now at home in the Pike of Rushall with Mary Rose's husband Niall, their daughters Roisin and Siobhan and twins Liam and Aoife.

Leitrim: Charles continues the family tradition

One cast member of the Corn Mill Players' production of John B. Keane's "Sive" is continuing a theatrical family tradition by being the third generation to tread the boards. Charles McGuinness' grandfather, Charles Farrelly, was part of the drama scene in Carrigallen. The young actor's mother, Maura Farrelly-McGuinness was also involved in the theatre locally as were her sister Evelyn and her brother Cathal, who was chairman of the Community Players when the decision was made to build a theatre in the village. And of course Charles' own father, Cillian McGuinness, is also heavily involved with the Corn Mill Players.

Limerick: Franciscans transform Delmege Park

The Franciscan friars who moved into a house in Delmege Park in Moyross in August to minister to local residents prepared a special Christmas present for the community and everyone from the city. The five friars created a live crib which began with a parade from Corpus Christi Church, with a local new-born baby called James taking the part of the baby Jesus. The Holy Family then entered a stable constructed by Brother Martin with the help of council workers and local men. Also in the stable were a bullock and a donkey, while some sixty local children played the part of angels.

Longford: X-Factor comes to Drumlish

The Drumlish Tidy Towns Committee has taken a new tack in its fundraising this year, with the success of the Ms Diva competition last year proving they are on the right track. This weekend fourteen contestants will be singing to the audience in Gallagher's Bar in a bid to become the X-Factor King or Queen. Judging the competition will be Sheila Reilly of the Longford Leader, Mark Connelan and Seamus Quinn and all proceeds will go towards work to be carried out by the committee next year. The competition has been organised by Maire Kenny, Martin Mulleady and Gillian O'Reilly.

Louth: Knockbridge man to lead New York parade

The New York St Patrick's Day Parade of 2008 will be led by a Louth man. Tommy Smyth from Knockbridge, well known to television viewers in America as a broadcaster on ESPN, has been chosen as Grand Marshal for the 248th parade. Tommy emigrated more than forty years ago and still has brothers and sisters Brendan, Harry, Sheila, Marian and Patsy living in Knockbridge. As Grand Marshal Tommy will host a preliminary breakfast, ring the bell that starts the day's trading on the New York Stock Exchange and then lead the three hundred thousand marchers up Fifth Avenue.

Mayo: Civic reception for centenarian

At the offices of the Ballina Town Council last week a civic reception was held to honour one-hundred-year-old Rose Brennan, for her contribution to life in the town over the past sixty-seven years. Originally from Barnatra in Erris, Rose worked as midwife for the Ballina district in the 1940s and 1950s; she has lived on Morrison Terrace for the last sixty-seven years. She also has the distinction of being the longest-serving member of Rehab in the country, as well as the oldest, and it was for her lifelong involvement with the organisation that she was honoured. She was presented with a Galway Crystal bowl by Ballina's mayor, Padraic Moore.

Meath: A timely development in Slane

A site has been agreed for a new dog pound to be constructed near Slane, a timely development given the increase in homeless dogs in the aftermath of Christmas. The new facility, which is subject to planning permission, is to be at Rathmaiden, Slane and it will be operated by Peter and Susan Weldon. It is to be open to the council dog wardens at all times, while the public will have access on five days a week, including Saturday mornings. Up to now Meath people who were seeking lost dogs had to travel to Dundalk in search of their pets.

Monaghan: Official opening of new Castleblayney road

A new road in Castleblayney was officially opened last week in the presence of local councillors and politicians. Cutting the ribbon for the new Backlands Road, which is expected to relieve some of the traffic congestion experienced in the town over recent years, was the town's mayor, Jackie Crowe. The new road links up the Monaghan Road at the Glencarn Hotel with Muckno Street, opposite the Livestock Mart. The improvement to infrastructure, coupled with a good number of parking places opposite the new Glencarn Shopping Centre, is expected to increase visitor numbers to Castleblayney.

Offaly: Tullamore Chamber keeps spending within town

The Chamber of Commerce in Tullamore came up with the perfect way to ensure that local employees spend their money in the town's businesses. The Chamber issued vouchers to employers to give to their employees as Christmas bonuses, to be spent in local shops, hotels and restaurants. The recipient business can reclaim the value of the voucher from the Chamber, and the beauty of the scheme for the town's economic health is that the vouchers can only be redeemed within Tullamore. In the first week of sales the Chamber sold €30,000 worth of vouchers and their target over the Christmas period is to keep €100,000 in the town.

Roscommon: Special reception for Knock pilot

When a Boyle man landed the first Airlines flight from Gatwick to Ireland West Airport Knock he was hardly expecting the reception he received. For Michael Candon was startled to see his parents, Michael and Marie, standing at the foot of the airplane steps, while inside the terminal were other family members and friends. These included Michael's grandmother, Winnie Candon, his sister Ruth and his brothers Keith and Philip. At just twenty-one years of age Michael is one of Europe's youngest commercial airline pilots; he has held his licence for the past five years.

Sligo: Walkway between bridges is given a new name

The walkway between Hyde Bridge and Markievicz Bridge in Sligo town has been named after a former mayor who was also very involved with Feis Shligigh. The name of Norbert Ferguson was put forward by Councillor Sean MacManus, and was particularly endorsed by Councillor Rosaleen O'Grady, who said she was probably one of the few councillors who remembered him. Better known as Nobby Ferguson, he was mayor of Sligo exactly forty years ago, being elected on his first day as a councillor and dying shortly after his year of office ended. The walkway will now be known officially as Norbert Ferguson Parade.

Tipperary: Museum to honour Cloughjordan patriot

The Cloughjordan Community Development Committee is seeking permission from the county council to establish a museum to honour Thomas McDonagh, one of the leaders of the 1916 Rising. The group hopes to be granted permission to redevelop the house on the main street which is believed to be the birthplace of the patriot, and they are also hoping to provide an interpretative and information centre, a museum and an internet café. The site of the McDonagh house is part of the Cloughjordan Architectural Conservation Area and the council is at present considering the application.

Tyrone: Christmas is for dogs, too

It won't only be people enjoying their turkey and cranberry sauce this Christmas, thanks to the enterprise of a Moy couple who have created a range of up-market biscuits for dogs, including turkey and cranberry flavour, Sunday Roast Bones, and Cheese Paws. The specially flavoured dog biscuits made by Bernard and Roisin Mackle of The Pet Factory on the Charlemont Industrial Estate have found favour in both America and mainland Europe. The idea for the specialist biscuits arose following a trip to America where the Mackles found that dog-owners wanted food for their pets to equal what they themselves were enjoying.

Waterford: All hands on deck in Bonmahon

The village of Bonmahon has been transformed in recent weeks and the work culminated last weekend in the official opening of the new playground by County Mayor Billy Coyne, followed by the switching on of the lights on the village Christmas Tree. The erection of the Christmas Tree was carried out by Buddy Whelan, Tom Whelan and Kevin Whelan and it stands in the garden of Dolph McGrath; the lights themselves were sponsored by Woodie's. Andy and Billy Kiely have also been preparing for next year by painting a boat donated by Vincent Mooney which will be filled with flowers and will be placed near the bridge.

Westmeath: Architects group credited with retention of hall

Following the recent decision by the county council to retain Fr Matthew Hall in Athlone and transform it into an art gallery, Councillor Michael O'Connell has praised the commitment of the Athlone Architectural Group. They managed to collect almost four thousand signatures in support of the hall being retained, a fact which the councillor believes had a significant influence on the final decision. It has been proposed that the new gallery become the county art gallery rather than confining its use to Athlone. The council is also to consider designating the building as a protected structure.

Wexford: Retirement beckons for Ely Hospital nurse

Some fifty colleagues gathered in Whitford Hotel last week to mark the retirement at the end of this week of Chrissy Alcock. Chrissy, a resident of Oylegate, has been nursing at Ely Hospital for the past thirty-seven years, having begun her career in St Senan's Hospital. Part of the celebrations involved a skit devised by Marguerite McGillycuddy and Eleanor O'Connor, and the recitation of a poem in Chrissy's honour by another colleague, Ann O'Brien. Presentations at the party, which was organised by Nursing Manager Libby Murphy and Director of Nursing Mary Wade, included a piece of crystal and a voucher.

Wicklow: Shillelagh immigrant is GAA star

A twelve-year-old who only arrived in this country with her family from South Africa six years ago, and has been engaged in Gaelic games for just two years, has managed to win a legion of awards. Calvin Swart plays with the Arklow Geraldines/Ballymoney juvenile footballers and is captain of the under-12 girls' football team which also includes her sister Megan. This year the team won both the league and county titles, as did the under-14 team of which she is also a member. She won the county title at both under-16 and minor levels, and also reached the All-Ireland final of the seven-a-side competition. The budding sports star also plays for Colaiste Bhride in Carnew.

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